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Microsoft is rebuilding the Office interface
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-06-14 00:10:51

Office today has a whole bunch of versions - the traditional, fully featured Win32 desktop applications and their near counterparts on the Mac, along with various simpler versions for the Web, mobile, and Universal Windows Platform (UWP). Presently, these various incarnations all have similarities in their interfaces, but they're far from consistent.

That's set to change. Microsoft is overhauling the interfaces of all the Office versions to bring a much more consistent look and feel across the various platforms that the applications support. This new interface will have three central elements.

I use Office every day, and I just want one thing from Microsoft: the ability to open multiple instances of the UWP Office applications. The UWP version of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are faster, smoother, and easier to use than their slow, cumbersome Win32 counterparts. I'm convinced the only reason Microsoft artificially limits the UWP versions to one instance per app is so they won't tread on the hallowed, sacred Win32 ground.

It's high time Microsoft removes this purely artificial limitation.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-19
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UWP came from tablets, tablets run only one instance
By malxau on 2018-06-14 02:01:14
> I just want one thing from Microsoft: the ability to open multiple instances of the UWP Office applications... I'm convinced the only reason Microsoft artificially limits the UWP versions to one instance per app is so they won't tread on the hallowed, sacred Win32 ground.

I don't think that's it. Remember, UWP came from tablets/phones, where "start app" and "switch to running app" are the same operation. Those devices had no concept of multiple instances of an application. It has since evolved so that an application can have multiple concurrent windows, but the application needs to be written to make it happen. In Win32, applications would need to go out of their way to prevent it happening, since the user can start as many instances of an app as they want.

There was a time when Windows 10 could only run one calculator - see https://www.onmsft.com/news/windo... .

I'm not saying that the evolution shouldn't continue and support multiple concurrent windows to Office applications, just that it's far more likely to be a historical artifact than malicious.
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Or tabs?
By Vistaus on 2018-06-14 09:25:55
Or they could allow tabs in the UWP versions. Some other office software, like WPS Office for example, has tabs support so if you want to open multiple documents, you just open them in tabs inside the window. That'd be a good alternative to multiple instances for the UWP versions of Office.
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RE: UWP came from tablets, tablets run only one instance
By sj87 on 2018-06-14 09:50:52
> Remember, UWP came from tablets/phones, where "start app" and "switch to running app" are the same operation. Those devices had no concept of multiple instances of an application. It has since evolved so that an application can have multiple concurrent windows, but the application needs to be written to make it happen. --

There was a time when Windows 10 could only run one calculator.

That was over three years ago. Meanwhile Office for Metro has made no effort to get to that point. I don't think it can be that hard, unless there was a political decision made that Office for Metro has to suck on the desktop.
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RE: Or tabs?
By daedalus on 2018-06-14 12:50:22
It depends on the reasoning behind the multiple instances desire. In my use case, for example, tabs are no good because I want to be able to open separate documents, or groups of documents, at the same time on different monitors.
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RE: Or tabs?
By laffer1 on 2018-06-14 12:52:20
Or bring back the multi document interface (MDI) from the 80s/90s. It's extremely useful to be able to compare two excel documents at the same time. Tabs wouldn't allow that to happen.
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features, dammit
By chrish on 2018-06-14 14:15:55
I'd be fine with this if the "new" versions implemented all (or even most) of the features of the existing Win32 versions.

Take OneNote for example; the Mac and UWP versions are missing a ton of features and have a UI that practically forces you to run full-screen if you need to switch between notebooks and pages frequently. It's pretty much the same as the mobile version.

Outlook on Mac (which is presumably using the UWP code base; can't tell as I haven't seen UWP Outlook yet) can't even subscribe to an iCal calendar. The mobile version isn't even an Exchange client, it's just a rebranded IMAP/SMTP app (not that there's anything wrong with that, but it would be nice to be able to access Exchange shared mailboxes from it).

Moving to a dumbed-down touch interface for everything is one thing, but also dropping tons of features? Do not want.

- chrish
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RE: features, dammit
By chrish on 2018-06-14 14:16:38
This is sort of a pet peeve because I really like Win32 OneNote, and I have to access an Exchange server for work. ;-)
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RE: Or tabs?
By FlyingJester on 2018-06-14 17:22:02
Just "adding tabs" to an application that was previously singular is not simple, and I suspect for something the size of Office it would be catastrophically difficult.
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RE[2]: Or tabs?
By Vistaus on 2018-06-14 17:47:56
I never said it was "simple", I just posted it as an alternative idea.
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RE: features, dammit
By The1stImmortal on 2018-06-15 01:53:08
> I'd be fine with this if the "new" versions implemented all (or even most) of the features of the existing Win32 versions.
The reason they dont is a lot of those features have been around so long the original implementers were long gone before the newer versions were even thought of. Win32 Office still has large chunks of code that date back a very long time.

> Take OneNote for example; the Mac and UWP versions are missing a ton of features and have a UI that practically forces you to run full-screen if you need to switch between notebooks and pages frequently. It's pretty much the same as the mobile version.
Until relatively recently, OneNote was an app looking for a niche. It was only with OneDrive stuff it really came into its own. The various implementations are going to reflect that search for a purpose.

> Outlook on Mac (which is presumably using the UWP code base; can't tell as I haven't seen UWP Outlook yet) can't even subscribe to an iCal calendar. The mobile version isn't even an Exchange client, it's just a rebranded IMAP/SMTP app (not that there's anything wrong with that, but it would be nice to be able to access Exchange shared mailboxes from it).

There is no UWP Outlook (at least not a native one - the win32 version comes in a windows store wrapper).

There's Windows Mail, which is mostly native UWP but I've seen the odd reference to msimn floating around in the guts of it which indicates there's at least some parts borrowed from the old Outlook Express codebase, but is mostly based on the old Windows Phone 7 mail client from what I can tell.

Outlook for Mac is basically the old Entourage app internally but with a rewritten GUI

Outlook for IOS and Android is an acquired product that has its own, independent development history

Outlook for Web is an evolution of Exchange OWA (which goes way back to Exchange 5.0

Getting all those disparate codebases to look and act the same way is going to be incredibly difficult.

> Moving to a dumbed-down touch interface for everything is one thing, but also dropping tons of features? Do not want.
Unfortunately "remove features" is the modern trend. I suspect it's really about saving money. Blame Apple, they made it popular! ;)
Permalink - Score: 4

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